Gasoline prices top $2 in Twin Cities area

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The price of gasoline went above the $2 mark in the Twin Cities for the first time since May. The increase comes weeks after crude oil prices climbed to record levels.

Many retailers raised gas prices as much as 20 cents overnight Monday, boosting the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline to $2.07 on Tuesday, according to a Web site that monitors gas prices in the area.

The U.S. average this week is $2.04, according to the Lundberg Survey, which tracks prices at more than 8,000 stations nationwide.

As consumers and retailers alike pay more for gas, oil refiners are enjoying record profits, a petroleum analyst said.


"Refiners are making beaucoup money. It's a refiner renaissance," said Tom Kloza, director of the Oil Price Information Service in Lakewood, N.J. "At retail, you're seeing high crude prices and high refinery margins passed along."

San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp., which refines about 12 percent of the nation's crude oil supply, on Tuesday announced record earnings of $1.3 billion for the nine months ending Sept. 30, an increase of 165 percent from the same period a year ago.

Marathon Oil Corp., which through a subsidiary owns about 220 SuperAmerica gas stations in Minnesota, also has seen profits soar. Marathon's refining business had a profit of $626 million in the six months ending June 30, up 91 percent from the same period last year.

Many station owners say they make little or nothing from gasoline, relying instead on auto service or convenience-store sales.

"I tell my customers I'm lucky to make 6 or 8 cents a gallon," said Tom Freiberg, owner of St. Anthony Service in St. Anthony Village. He raised his price 10 cents a gallon, to $1.99, this week, but said he's trying to hold the line.

"There's no reason to jump 20 cents in one day," he said. "That's just blatant." He confessed he doesn't understand the ups and down of gas prices any more than the average motorist.

"To be honest, there is no rhyme or reason to any of it," Freiberg said. "It gives me a headache."

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